from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2017, Issue No. 14
February 27, 2017

Secrecy News Blog:


There is no law that categorically prohibits all leaks of classified (or unclassified) information. Instead, there is a patchwork of statutes that outlaw some unauthorized disclosures under some circumstances.

The various statutes that have been used to punish leaks of classified information are surveyed in a new publication from the Congressional Research Service. See The Law and Leaks to the Press, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 22, 2017.

"Not every leak to the press is a federal crime," CRS notes. Even when a disclosure is a potential crime, the underlying statutes are not self-activating or self-enforcing. Investigators and prosecutors retain considerable discretion about how to proceed.

I discussed some of these issues lately in the Washington Post. See "President Trump's war on leaks, explained" by Aaron Blake, February 16.

Other noteworthy new or updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

A New Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State: Issues and Current Proposals, updated February 21, 2017:

Iran's Nuclear Program: Tehran's Compliance with International Obligations, updated February 23, 2017:

Federal Building and Facility Security: Frequently Asked Questions, updated February 22, 2017:

U.S. Secret Service: Selected Issues and Executive and Congressional Responses, updated February 22, 2017:

"Dear Colleague" Letters in the House of Representatives: Past Practices and Issues for Congress, February 22, 2017:

Health Care-Related Expiring Provisions of the 115th Congress, First Session, updated February 22, 2017:

El Salvador: Background and U.S. Relations, updated February 23, 2017:

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), updated February 22, 2017:


The discipline of geospatial engineering and its role in U.S. military operations are described in a newly updated U.S. Army publication.

"Geospatial engineering is an art and a science that pertains to the generation, management, analysis, and dissemination of geospatial information that is accurately referenced to a precise location on the earth and is used in offense, defense, stability, or defense support of civil authorities tasks."

"Geospatial engineers aid in the analysis of physical and cultural mapping and other activities that significantly contribute to anticipating, estimating, and warning of possible future events. Providing geospatial information that is timely, accurate, and relevant is a critical enabler throughout the operations process for developing shared situational awareness, improving the understanding of capabilities and limitations for friendly forces and the adversary, and highlighting other conditions of the operational environment that are required for mission command."

"Today, geospatial engineering leverages finer temporal, spatial, and spectral resolutions from additional sensors and platforms that allow increased volumes and more complex data. New methods and technologies provide additional utility and capability and the ability to work effectively and efficiently within a broad pool of partners and allies." See Geospatial Engineering, Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 3-34.80, February 22, 2017:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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